By: Caitlin Hu
The worst isn’t the screams or the snow or the mind-numbing blare of “Night on Bald Mountain” on repeat. It’s the cowbells: a rusty jangle that means the Christmas monsters are coming.
Until Jan. 6, demons, witches and monsters haunt Europe.
The season of terror actually begins on Dec. 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas’ Day, with public parades of the saint’s supposed companions: Across the Italian, Austrian and Slovenian Alps, cowbell-slung demons called Krampus storm mountain towns. In France, the legendary serial killer and butcher Pere Fouettard (Father Whipper) threatens naughty children with his whip, while in Belgium and the Netherlands, a controversial child-kidnapper called Zwarte Piet (Black Piet) rides through canals on a steamship.